A "dakini" is a Buddhist female deity who reveals the violent aspects of existence to her priestly worshipers and who is also an intermediary between the Buddhist heavens and mankind. In the Tantric Buddhist beliefs of the Himalayas, she is a demonic force, as evidenced by the necklace of skulls she wears and the cut of blood and the executioner's ax that she carries. Yet she also averts evil and brings wisdom. Like the Hindu mother goddesses, Durga and Parvati, whom she resembles, she is an embodiment of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Her dancing pose recalls Hindu dancer figures, though in Buddhist belief it also implies her ability to fly between realms of the universe. The striking gilt bronze figure radiates primordial energy.
"Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection," page 54